Toss up between two teflon-era Steinway Bs

Posted by: dsch

Toss up between two teflon-era Steinway Bs - 03/04/13 09:29 PM

I'm at an impasse regarding two teflon-era Steinway Bs.

B number 1:
1974 model, black satin finish (which I prefer). History is university use. Has new Abel hammers. Noticeable clicking on the lowest 4 keys.

B number 2:
1976 model, new black gloss finish (formerly white!), new strings. Action was allegedly replaced by former owner. Hsmmers are original. Light to moderate use. Here's what concerned me: the dealer had a dehumidifier right next to it. Not in the middle of the showroom but right next to this piano. RPG Tech here is probably more adept than the tech for number 1. Dealer has stated a cash price that is difficult to refuse and highly significantly lower than what he is asking on his website.

Actions were about the same: a little uneven, some keys a little heavier than others, but overall nice.

I didn't know enough to look for flat knuckles but without any additional information which of the two would you choose? Is there anything I should be wary of? I have perused the teflon postings and am assuming in the worst possible case I'd have to replace the action on both and the hammers on #2 eventually at additional expense of $5K-$8K although they are both in very good to excellent shape at the moment.

I need this piano to last for 20 years. I am 50 now and it's for me: 1-2 hours play on work days and 2-4 hours on weekends.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Toss up between two teflon-era Steinway Bs - 03/04/13 11:01 PM

You haven't said how much money each party is asking, which is kind of important to form an opinion.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Toss up between two teflon-era Steinway Bs - 03/05/13 12:14 AM

Originally Posted By: dsch
I'm at an impasse regarding two teflon-era Steinway Bs.

B number 1:
1974 model, black satin finish (which I prefer). History is university use. Has new Abel hammers. Noticeable clicking on the lowest 4 keys.

B number 2:
1976 model, new black gloss finish (formerly white!), new strings. Action was allegedly replaced by former owner. Hsmmers are original. Light to moderate use. Here's what concerned me: the dealer had a dehumidifier right next to it. Not in the middle of the showroom but right next to this piano. RPG Tech here is probably more adept than the tech for number 1. Dealer has stated a cash price that is difficult to refuse and highly significantly lower than what he is asking on his website.

Actions were about the same: a little uneven, some keys a little heavier than others, but overall nice.

I didn't know enough to look for flat knuckles but without any additional information which of the two would you choose? Is there anything I should be wary of? I have perused the teflon postings and am assuming in the worst possible case I'd have to replace the action on both and the hammers on #2 eventually at additional expense of $5K-$8K although they are both in very good to excellent shape at the moment.

I need this piano to last for 20 years. I am 50 now and it's for me: 1-2 hours play on work days and 2-4 hours on weekends.


Certainly, both of the pianos will benefit from some sort of upgrading. Premium hammers would help either one. If you have an independent technical evaluation of both of them, the main concern is that there is not something hidden with either that will bite you later. Assuming a solid foundation, the ultimate potential of the piano would rest more on the kind and quality of technical work done to upgrade it to a refined level of playability -- rather than whatever minor baseline differences exist at this point.

Speaking of Teflon, it may not need to be replaced. I am servicing two Steinways (an M and a D) that have original teflon wippens and they are doing just fine. However if there is widespread clicking, it would be time to replace. You would get an improved result by replacing the teflon shanks and flanges -- or whatever kind there are -- if you replace hammers. I recommend the WN&G components.

With a solid foundation and minor upgrades, it would seem either could serve your needs from a technical standpoint.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Toss up between two teflon-era Steinway Bs - 03/05/13 01:14 AM

You need someone to look at them. You need specific information about what state they are in. You need to know what parts are in them, and what other work has been done to them, and what might be in store for the future.

Clicking on 4 adjacent hammers, particularly at one end of the action, could be caused by several things, not just Teflon centers.
Posted by: Olek

Re: Toss up between two teflon-era Steinway Bs - 03/05/13 06:26 AM

How can you expect to expertise pianos by yourself ? Just think about that :

Having a piano (and more one with good musicality availeable if treated correctly) mean knowing a trusted technician.

I give that advice to all persons that are looking for a piano :

Find first the tech you are at ease with, then the piano.

You could even know the budget before buying the piano.

That budget can even allow you to modify the price.

Experts sometime prefer not to be involved in such transactions, particularely if a piano dealer is concerned, but it is not impossible to have at last a second advice in that case.

Posted by: dsch

Re: Toss up between two teflon-era Steinway Bs - 03/05/13 07:23 AM

Beethoven, I pm'd you regarding prices.
Posted by: Olek

Re: Toss up between two teflon-era Steinway Bs - 03/05/13 08:14 AM

Those forums are just there to help people to avoid mistakes.

Sometime it does not work as they buy pianos for the brand, not for the quality or condition.

They cannot refrain, it is just that, and the dealers also know that.
Posted by: Bob

Re: Toss up between two teflon-era Steinway Bs - 03/05/13 08:21 AM

Like BDB says, you need a tech to look at it. If the pianos are in the Orlando area, look me up. I don't do discounted store work and will be impartial. We cannot tell the condition of the pianos without seeing them first hand. Universities rarely trade in a piano that is in good condition. In Florida, a humidifier is beneficial during cold spells, where the outside temperature goes down in the 30's at night. These usually last a couple of days.

Florida humidity during the winter is 45% on average. During cold spells, heated air (especially if sourced from the outside and not recirculated) can drop to 15% humidity, which de tunes all the pianos. Hence the humidifier. I'd rather not see a humidifier right next to a piano, though.
Posted by: TunerJeff

Re: Toss up between two teflon-era Steinway Bs - 03/05/13 10:50 AM

The clicking sound in the Teflon actions comes from the small plastic bushings rattling in the wood where they are inserted. It is swings of humidity that swell and shrink the wood around the bushing that creates the looseness required. The insertion holes become oval, as the years roll by, and the round Teflon bushing no longer fits firmly in place. Once they start clicking, they rapidly get worse, as they now have some room to wobble with every stroke and it accelerates the process of enlarging that opening.

My conversations with Steinway techs tells me that these actions have reached the end of their service life...they no longer suggest trying to keep them up and running, and support replacement of the action over attempting to 'fix' loose bushings.

But (...there's always a but), you may get away with only replacing the hammers/shanks/flanges and not the complete action. The other bushings (Teflon) are not stressed the same way during playing, and may not create a noticable 'click!' when played. I've seen, and service, several pianos that have had only the hammers replaced, and they do not have noticeable action noise from the Telfon bits anymore.

Be advised, however, that the Teflon parts include the whippen, repetition, jack, damper underlever, damper top-flanges, etc etc...and they may eventually cause you to replace the entire action and back action.

I would agree that the university-piano likely has more wear than a 'home-use' piano, if that makes a difference to your choice. I'd certainly suggest that a technician check both pianos, and offer an opinion based on what's actually there...and not an opinion based on my best guess from a couple thousand miles away!

Respectfully,
I remain,
Yr. humble and ob't svt.,
Posted by: dsch

Re: Toss up between two teflon-era Steinway Bs - 03/27/13 10:17 PM

We ended up getting #1. Paid cash and got a deal. PM me if you are curious as to price. It was church use rather than university use, with new Abel hammers. Clicking was due to slight error in position of that horizontal wood piece to the left of the lowest key (don't know what it's called).

RPG Tech said I will need a new repetition maybe in 3-5 years, new strings maybe in 10 years. Some, but not all of the action parts had been replaced already.

He really liked it! He liked the hammers more than Steinway hammers.